UVA leader named to the list of breakout university engineers and scientists

Each year, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute asks the scientists and professionals among its national membership to identify the trends and influential figures that are shaping the field. This year, Professor of Biomedical Engineering George Christ was one of 15 leaders named to the list of breakout university engineers and scientists.

UVA Professor of BME George Christ

George Christ, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, Mary Muilenburg Stamp Professor of Orthopaedic Research, and Director of Basic and Translational Research in Orthopaedic Surgery

Taking a step closer to commercialization, he is the principal investigator for an investigational new drug submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a tissue-engineered muscle repair construct for treatment of cleft lip. This work was done in concert with the Regenerative Medicine Clinical Center at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The institute’s goal is to facilitate the process of turning laboratory discoveries into manufactured products. “One of the issues is that the field is highly fragmented,” Christ said. “The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute is bringing together all the players and coordinating their efforts to create a complete ecosystem, to support high-volume, FDA-compliant manufacturing.”

Their choice of Christ as a leader in this effort is hardly surprising. Christ has been visible across the spectrum of activities from research to commercialization. For instance, as the result of Department of Defense-funded collaborations with the University of California at Berkeley, Keratin Biosciences and others, Christ has gained important proof-of-concept data that will guide the development of novel biomaterials for muscle repair.

At the same time, Christ was an active contributor to the technical roadmap that BioFabUSA, a program sponsored by the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, developed for achieving large-scale, cost-effective, reproducible manufacturing of engineered tissues. To further these goals, he has partnered with colleagues at UVA as well as with Organovo, Smithfield and the Geneva Foundation to develop novel biomanufacturing methods that could be used to produce tissue-engineered medical products.

One theme that clearly comes across from this partial list of Christ’s activities is the crucial importance he places on collaboration. “There’s the simple fact that some of the obstacles to everyday application of regenerative medicine will be extremely hard to overcome,” he said. “The only way forward is collaboration.”

University of Virginia Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing

Together with experts from industry and government, UVA researchers are creating the roadmap for building reproducible biomanufacturing processes. They are making the advances that will take this research from labs and trials to actual health care.